Game of Thrones
July 16, 2017
Dragons, giant ice zombies, mass murder, bedpan montages, the Hound calling people “cunts,” Ed Sheeran, Lil’ Lady Badass telling dumb men what’s what, Brimund … IT’S ALL HERE! GAME OF THRONES IS BACK, Y’ALL! BE EXCITED!
Well, look who it is, but that old evil fucker, Walder Frey, who last we saw was busy being murdered to death by Arya. But here he is, alive and well, hosting a feast for all of his weak-chinned inbred kin. Now that winter is here, what better time to open a cask of his finest arbor gold to toast his brave family (but not you, child bride #270, wine is for men) for their courageous murder of the Stark family at the Red Wedding. Drink to butchering a pregnant woman! Drink to cutting the throat of a mother of five! Drink to beheading a trapped animal! Drink to slaughtering guests that they had invited into their home! Drink up, guys!
And the Freys, they gulp down the wine only to discover that it has been good and poisoned by none other than Arya Stark who was cosplaying as Walder this entire time.
They didn’t slaughter all of the Starks, and as long as you “keep one wolf alive, sheep are never safe.”
And this is where my notes devolve into an unintelligible series of fuck yesses:
Arya’s not done yet, turning to Walder Child Bride #270, instructing her that when people ask what happened, to tell them that the North remembers and that winter came for House Frey.
Later, on her way through the woods, Arya finds a group of Lannister bannermen and Ed Sheeran, sitting around a fire, enjoying a little roasted rodent. But instead of slitting all of their throats and screaming, “THAT’S FOR THE BUTCHER’S BOY!” Arya graciously allows them to live, going so far to inform them that she’s headed to King’s Landing to kill the Queen. And then everyone has a good laugh because Arya is 100% serious.
Beyond the Wall
Bran has another one of his fun visions: this time of the Night King making his way south with the White Walkers and their little wights buddies, and it appears that they’ve picked up a few zombiefied giants along the way. That can’t be good.
While Bran is just lying around having visions, poor Meera is dragging him halfway across The Lands of Always Winter. They finally arrive at the Wall, where they are met by a skeptical Edd until Bran is like, “Dude, you were at Hardhome and Fist of the First Men with my brother Jon. You’ve seen the White Walkers. I’ve seen the White Walkers. Come on, just let us in already.”
And that’s how Bran, carrying his mark of the Night King, crosses the Wall and pretty much dooms all of mankind.
Our new King in the North has an All Bannermen on Deck meeting about this Night King business, explaining that they need to find all the dragonglass they can, and that errrrrrybody needs to learn to fight, even girls. When one old codger protests that he’s not going to put a spear in his granddaughter’s hand, everyone’s favorite character, Lil’ Lady Badass, reads him for filth. “YOU LISTEN TO ME, OLD MAN, I, YOUR GRANDDAUGHTER AND EVERY OTHER GIRL IN THE NORTH WILL FIGHT IF WE WANT TO AND WE DON’T NEED YOUR PERMISSION TO DO SO.”
King Jon then orders the Wildlings to go to the Wall to help man it, to which Tormund is all, “fuck yeah.” As for the castles belonging to the Karstarks and Umbers, you know, the traitors who fought for the Boltons and who gave Rickon over to that monster Ramsay, Sansa suggests that they not be given back to the families. You know, on account of the fact that they fought with the Boltons and THEY GAVE THEIR LITTLE BROTHER OVER TO RAMSAY. But Jon is all “blah blah, no son should suffer for the sins of their father, blah” and has the Umber and Karstark kids swear an oath to him over Sansa’s furious glare.
Later, Jon whines at Sansa to stop undermining him, and Sansa’s like, “Well, stop being so dumb,” pointing out that Ned and Robb were both good men, but they made stupid mistakes that got them killed. Jon is all, “Oh … oh … oh … what am I supposed to do? Take advice from you? A girl?” And Sansa’s all, “Uh, I mean, it was my idea to take back Winterfell, I saved your ass in the Battle of the Bastards, I’m basically THE ENTIRE REASON YOU ARE KING, so maybe you should listen to what I have to say, you SELF-RIGHTEOUS TWIT.”
King Jon then receives a message from Queen Cersei: “Dear Whoever Is Running Winterfell These Days, I Can’t Keep Track: Time to come bend a knee to the new Head Bitch In Charge or I will kill your snow-worshipping ass. LOL LOL, Cers.”
King Jon is like, “Right, like the Lannisters are going to come fight in the ice. What. Ever.” But Sansa, who has spent more than her share of time with Cersei Lannister, is all, “Underestimate that crazy bitch at your own peril, dude.”
Elsewhere in Winterfell, Brienne and Pod are training, while Tormund is all, “Hey, girl, hey.”
Littlefinger is also all, “Hey, girl, hey” with Sansa, but she’s all, “Could you not?” Brienne asks her why she keeps his creepy ass around and Sansa sighs that they still need his forces at the Vale. Brienne warns Sansa that Littlefinger wants something from her, and Sansa is all, “O? U THINK?”
Queen Cersei is doing a little redecorating at the Red Keep, adding large floor painting of Westeros that is only going to get scuffed to hell. There, she’s visited by her brother-lover Jaime, who insists he’s not angry with her, but he might be a little frightened of her. Really? Why?
Seeing how they have enemies all around them, and some crazy Targaryen coming to their shores with the help of their little brother and a trio of fire-breathing dragons, Cersei demands to know what Jaime’s plan is as the commander of the Lannister forces. He points out that winter is here, that they can’t win wars without feeding their men and horses, but all the grain is controlled by the Tyrells — you know, the family she blew up at the sept?
Cersei is preeeeeetty sure the Tyrells won’t fight alongside some nasty Dothraki or Unsullied, but Jaime’s like, “Oh, I think they’ll fight alongside whomever they think will win and, here, again, may I point out dragons.” He then calls Cersei the Queen of Three Kingdoms.
Jaime tries to get Cersei to talk about Tommen, but she’s not interested. He betrayed the family. He’s dead, they’re not, and as the last Lannisters that count, they need to carry on. To that end, she’s going to make an alliance with the King of the Iron Islands, Euron. Or Sea Pacey, as I am going to call him from here on out.
(Turn on your volume for the video below. Trust me.)
Jaime is unimpressed with this new alliance — the Ironborn are no better than the Freys, killing their supposed friends — and they are “bitter angry little people.” Cersei chooses to be more pragmatic, arguing that everyone kills their friends at some point. That’s politics!
So Cersei and Jaime hear what Sea Pacey has to say, which is basically that he’s super pissed at his niece and nephew for stealing his fleet, and would like to team up with Cersei to defeat their common enemies. He’ll give her the Iron fleet, and in exchange, she’ll marry him. After all, he has one thousand ships and two good hands.
Cersei declines his proposal, noting that he’s not trustworthy. After all, he killed his own brother. “And it felt great, you should try it some time,” Sea Pacey cheekily winks at Jaime. But Sea Pacey knows that he’s not going to change Cersei’s mind on this visit, and vows to return with a “priceless gift” to win her trust.
So Sam’s time at the Citadel “training” to become a “maester” mostly involves him putting books away in the library; passing out bowls of slop to old, bedridden maesters; and then collecting their full and disgusting bedpans.
So more like the “Shitadel,” amirite?
While helping a maester with an autopsy, Sam asks for permission to the restricted area in the library that is only for maesters: he was sent to Oldtown to try to find ways to defeat the army of the dead, and cleaning bedpans doesn’t exactly fall into that particular category. Sam then explains that he’s seen the White Walkers, and they are very real despite everyone’s insistence that they don’t exist. Maester Autopsy is like, “Yeah, I believe you, but here’s the thing: we’ll be fine. Everyone always thinks it’s the end of the world, but we manage to survive. And it’s our job here in Oldtown to serve as Westeros’ memory.” Then, just to guarantee it will happen, Maester Autopsy foreshadows, “Look, the White Walkers have never made it south of the Wall and they never will, so chill.”
Sometime later, Sam spies the keys to the restricted area of the library just sitting out on a table, so he swipes them, goes into the area and shoves a bunch of books down his robes.
Back in his chambers, Sam pours over the books while Gilly sits nearby, reminding us that she’s still around. It’s in one of these of these books that Sam discovers that there is a huge stash of dragonglass underneath the fittingly named Dragonstone Castle, and he sends a message to King Jon Emopants right away.
Later, as Sam is on either his slop run or his shit run, an arm covered in greyscale reaches out from a cell. Inside, the man asks Sam if Daenerys has arrived yet, and Sam’s like, “I mean, I haven’t heard anything…”
HI JORAH! HOW’S THE PLAGUE GOING?
Winter has come to the Riverlands, which the Brotherhood Without Banners along with their new buddy the Hound, are marching across on their way North. They stop at a farmhouse for the night over the Hound’s protests, and inside they find the corpses of a father and daughter. Based on the knife they find at the corpses’ feet, they surmise that the father killed his daughter and himself rather than starve to death.
Later, the Hound wonders why Beric Dondarrion is so special that the Lord of Light keeps bringing him back from the dead, and Beric is like, “beats me.” Thoros, the red priest with the man bun, urges the Hound to come look into the flames of fire that he’s built and the Hound is like, “Yeah, I kinda don’t do fire.” But Thoros insists that the Lord of Light will show him what he wants the Hound to see. So the Hound peers into the flames and to his astonishment, he sees the Wall, a castle where he Wall meets the sea, a mountain that is shaped like an arrowhead and thousands of zombies. And then Thoros is like, “told ya so.”
That night, Thoros finds the Hound outside burying the corpses, and puts two and two together: the Hound knew them. And he did! They were the farmer and his daughter that the Hound and Arya met after leaving the Red Wedding, the ones who offered them hospitality only to have the Hound steal all of their silver. When Arya gave him grief for this, the Hound shrugged that the father and daughter would be dead by winter. And whaddya know?
So now he feels bad about it and with a little help from Thoros, he gives them a proper rest, while lamenting that they both deserved better.
Sad emoji here.
Guess who’s back.
Tell a friend.
Guess who’s back, guess who’s back…
guess who’s back, guess who’s back…
guess who’s back, guess who’s back …
YAASSSSSS, KWEEN, YAAAAASSSSSSSS, WE SHALL.
Let me just start with a very obvious point: Daenerys did not come to Westeros to save it, she came to conquer it. To that end, this season’s major conflict will be between Daenerys and Cersei over the Iron Throne. I know that is a “no duh” comment, but I think there is value in remembering that though we the audience know about the Night King and the White Walkers and the looming and all-consuming threat coming down from the North, the only people in Westeros who really understand it or give a shit about it are Jon Snow, Bran, Sam, a handful of wildlings and the Night’s Watch. That particular fight — which is the most important of the series and which will animate Jon’s choices throughout this season — is just not on Daenerys Targaryen’s mind as she makes landfall in the country of her birth. And so I suspect we will spend this season once and for all settling this Iron Throne business between Cersei and Daenerys before the final season in which we will learn who sits on the Iron Throne is actually an utterly moot point.
Oh, and Daenerys will come out on top in her fight with Cersei because dragons. I suspect Cersei will win a battle or two, and she might do away with some of her enemies in the process. If I were the Queen of Thorns out in Highgarden — the only place with food resources for the Lannister troops — I’d be a little worried that Jaime and his men might decide to just come take what they need. And though Tyrion is the obvious “gift” to which Sea Pacey might have been referring, it’s worth remembering that there are a trio of Sand Snakes out there who killed Cersei’s daughter and with whom she might like to have a word or two.
In the end, I think, a lot of the deck will be cleared. We are already running out of great houses. To refresh the memory, though Westeros is called “The Seven Kingdoms,” there are actually nine:
The Baratheons are wiped out (with the exception of Gendry and whatever other bastards might have slipped Cersei’s notice); the Tyrells were extinguished in the sept explosion, but for the Queen of Thorns who won’t be reproducing anytime soon; Edmure Tully, the last of the Tullys, is a Lannister prisoner; and House Martell was slaughtered by the Sand Snakes, leaving only bastards — thousands of them, supposedly, to battle it out for control.
So of the nine kingdoms, we functionally have five left: the Targaryens, the Starks, the Lannisters, the Arryns and the Greyjoys.
I suspect Cersei finishes off her enemies, the Tyrells and the Martells, and the Greyjoys will die in the fighting between Cersei and Daenerys. Which leaves us with the Lannisters, Starks, Targaryens and Arryns.
And it would be hilarious if at the end of it all, Robin Arryn was the last one standing.
But that seems improbable. We know that for now the Vale is under Littlefinger’s control and we know that he is doing some schemey scheming up in the North. Sansa only keeps Littlefinger around because the North needs the Vale army, but the longer she keeps him around, the more time he has to make trouble. Remember that Littlefinger’s goal is the Iron Throne: if he sits back and waits for Cersei and Daenerys to fight it out, he could later try to swoop in with the Stark-Arryn forces and take out whomever remains. But first, he would need those Stark armies, which is why he’s going to hang out in Winterfell for a while and try to manipulate a much more savvy, Cersei-trained Sansa. Ultimately, he will not be successful, and I wonder if his failure will have some consequence for House Arryn. In any event, stick a pin in the House of Arryn. I’m not sure how they will factor into the final battles but I can’t imagine they will be the only kingdom not named Targaryen that makes it out of all of these battles unscathed.
Which will leave us with the three most important families on the show: the Lannisters, the Targaryens and the Starks. Cersei will eventually lose the war to Daenerys because, like I said, dragons, and I suspect that in her fury she will probably try recreate the Mad King scenario — after all, burning it all down worked for her once before and what does she have to lose now? That dragon bitch can take King’s Landing, but all that will remain will be ashes. This will be the bridge too far for Jaime who will finally kill her, fulfilling the Valonqar prophecy (you know, the one where a witch told her that a valonqar — “little brother” in Valyrian — would kill her). And presumably he dies in her arms, somehow, either via a self-inflicted wound or an injury sustained while trying to stop her. You’ve heard this theory from me before, but there is just too much narrative symmetry to have the lover-twins come into this life together for them not to leave it together.
This will leave us with the Targaryens and the Starks to fight the actual war — the only one that has really mattered this entire time — against these supernatural forces from Beyond the Wall. And I think that is ultimately the point that is being made here: that all of these great houses fell due to self-inflicted wounds incurred in what was ultimately a petty and meaningless squabble over a seat of power that means nothing in the face of the threat of extinction. The only ones left to save Man are the Targaryens, to whom the Throne originally belonged and the Starks who never wanted the Iron Throne in the first place. Together, Jon Stark and Daenerys Targaryen will ultimately defeat the Night King — but Jon will probably die in the process.
Speaking of the Night King, a couple of thoughts about Bran’s vision:
1. It is difficult to see on this video thanks to the color saturation, but it appears that they are walking over grass which means they are pretty far south. What that means is that this is a vision of the future, as Winter has already reached the Riverlands, and the Wall is still standing. For now.
2. It would be really rough, but there’s a chance that we might see a wight Hodor. Or, maybe even worse, a wight Summer.
Speaking of wights, something that occurred to me a couple of weeks ago when I was discussing Game of Thrones with my husband, which we do more often than is probably healthy or normal, just ask my kids, BUT ANYWAY, it occurred to me that the wights are to the Night King as Dondarrion and Jon Snow are to The Lord of Light. And then in an interview right before the show returned, George R.R. Martin came out and announced that there are fire wights and I was like “GAH, I KNOW, I LITERALLY JUST SAID THAT THE OTHER DAY.”
But here’s why this is important: ever since his resurrection, Jon Snow has been a leading candidate for being our Azor Ahai. Melisandre’s prophecy is, “When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone.“ It’s widely assumed that Jon is a Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark; thus, when he comes back to life, he is a dragon awoken out of stone. And when we had the flashback to Jon’s birth in the Tower of Joy, Ned places Ser Arthur Dayne’s sword, Dawn, at the foot of Lyanna’s bloody bed: a red star bleeding.
Great! All of this fits nicely! I mean, there was no smoke at either Jon Snow’s birth or his rebirth, but sure! Prophecies can be weird!
But check out Martin’s quote:
And Jon Snow, too, is drained by the experience of coming back from the dead on the show.
Right. And poor Beric Dondarrion, who was set up as the foreshadowing of all this, every time he’s a little less Beric. His memories are fading, he’s got all these scars, he’s becoming more and more physically hideous, because he’s not a living human being anymore. His heart isn’t beating, his blood isn’t flowing in his veins, he’s a wight, but a wight animated by fire instead of by ice, now we’re getting back to the whole fire and ice thing.
Here’s the thing: though Jon Snow is the “hero,” he’s just as much a fire wight as Beric Dondarrion is. They are both fire wights who were brought back to the world of the living through the Lord of Light’s powers via a priest or priestess. They are no more the Lord of Light than the ice wights are the Night King.
In contrast, we have Daenerys who was born on Dragonstone Island which is surrounded by the Narrow Sea (salt) and reborn on Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre (smoke). That same pyre hatched her dragons from their eggs (dragons from stone) and in the books, it is that very morning that the red comet appears for the first time (red star bleeds). In addition, Daenerys, like the fabled Azor Ahai, kills her beloved … which you could argue leads to the birth of her dragons, her great weapon.
In the books, Maester Aemon is completely convinced:
No one ever looked for a girl..It was a prince that was promised, not a princess. Rhaegar I thought … the smoke was from the fire that devoured Summerhall on the day of his birth, the salt from the tears shed for those who died. He shared my belief when he was young, but later he became persuaded that it was his own son who fulfilled the prophecy, for a comet had been seen above King’s Landing on the night Aegon was conceived, and Rhaegar Targaryen was certain the bleeding star had to be a comet.
What fools we were, who thought ourselves so wise! The error crept in from the translation. Dragons are neither male nor female, Barth saw the truth of that, but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame. The language misled us all for a thousand years.
Daenerys is the one, born amidst salt and smoke. The dragons prove it.
I mean, the dragons, they kinda prove it.
On other subjects: so the internet freaked the hell out when Ed Sheeran showed up in their Game of Thrones, a reaction which took me by surprise because as I spend all day writing about television and saw months ago that he would be in the show, I assumed that everyone knew this.
Also, too, there’s the part where plenty of other musicians have made cameos, including one guy from Coldplay, all of Mastodon, all of Of Monsters and Men, all of Sigur Rós, guitarist Wilko Johnson and the singer from Snow Patrol. Additionally, the actors who portrayed a bunch of major characters have musical backgrounds, including Ramsay, Osha, Daario, Bronn, Melisandre and Jojen. So it struck me as strange that suddenly people were freaking out over Ed Sheeran and complaining that it took them out of the show.
Anyway, what is important to note about the scene is the song Ed Sheeran was singing was “Hands of Gold,” whose lyrics are:
“He rode through the streets of the city
Down from his hill on high
O’er the winds and the steps and the cobbles
He rode to a woman’s sigh
For she was his secret treasure
She was his shame and bliss
And a chain and a keep are nothing
Compared to a woman’s kiss
For hands of gold are always cold but a woman’s hands are warm”
In the books, the song is sung by Symon Silver Tongue, a singer who discovers Tyrion’s secret relationship with Shae, and writes the song to blackmail Tyrion into putting him into a singing tournament at Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding. Instead, Tyrion has Bronn kill him. Still, the song haunts Tyrion and he thinks about it often.
What relevance does it have in the show? Dunno! Probably just a little Easter egg for book readers! But I will say that the lyrics, while written about Tyrion and Shae could also apply to Jaime and Cersei, and you should keep that and the song’s title in mind when I later tell you about a theory that is floating around out there.
As for Arya, rather than going back home to Winterfell for a big Stark reunion, she appears to be making her way down her list. A handy reminder of who is on her list:
Thoros of Myr
My best guess? Of all of those on the list, Melisandre is the most in danger of being killed by Arya. Although, Ilyn Payne, Ned Stark’s executioner, might also see the pointy end of Needle soon. (He hasn’t been on the show since season two, as the actor who plays him, the aforementioned Wilko Johnson, was diagnosed with cancer. However, he’s now cancer-free, so maybe he’ll be back to be murdered by Arya.)
Yeah, you will.
As for Sam and his book, The Long Night, two things:
1. The image on the map of Dragonstone, the “mountain of dragonglass,” looks like the cave Daenerys walks past on her way up to the castle:
2. Some very devoted viewers spent their time deciphering what this says:
I would transcribe what they found in its entirety, but this post is already pushing 5,000 words, so I will just direct you here. In addition to discussion of the Children of the Forest using the dragonglass against the White Walkers, and the mention of the mine of dragonglass on Dragonstone Island, is this interesting tidbit:
… (some) consider the stone sacred though… history or because of some arcane… whatever the case, in the eastern … (made) ___ and amulets along with… There are even tales of the less sav… (administered) dragonglass as a cure for … his great work on illnesses and diseases… whatever little harm incurs from the ingestion… little known harm to the gullible (people who try to cure themselves) … better spent on practical treatments… … this association with the low … have purchased … sadly
So, is the dragonglass going to cure Jorah of his grayscale? Mayhaps!
And now, in conclusion, let’s talk about a couple of crazy theories that are not my own, and which I don’t actually ascribe to, but which I think are interesting and worth noting nonetheless. First of all, I was reading a very cuckoo bananas theory that suggested Joanna Lannister, Tyrion, Cersei and Jaime’s mother, faked her death and ended up becoming Quaithe. You know, this weird character who in the books makes a bunch of prophecies, most of which were cut from the show:
Anyway, part of this theory suggests that all of the Lannister children were sired by King Aerys, the Mad King. This depends somewhat on an argument that Tywin was actually infertile based on some notion that he didn’t have any illegitimate kids running around Westeros. However, it is curious that for both of her pregnancies, Joanna Lannister did happen to be residing at court during times when she probably became pregnant.
The Lannisters are actually Targaryens theory would be a handy explanation for their inability to keep their hands off of one another. And it would make for a number of rich ironies, including Cersei being furious with Tyrion for killing their father when all along Jaime had actually killed their father; and that not only were Robert’s “children” all Targaryens, but that after his death, Targaryens had actually already taken back the Iron Throne; and that the coming war between Cersei and Daenerys is actually just another Targaryen-on-Targaryen fight.
This idea that the Lannisters are actually Targaryens would also help another theory that is floating around out there: that Jaime is actually Azor Ahai, the Lord of Light, the savior that will defeat the Great Other. The theory hinges on the fact that the Valyrian words “lord” and “light” are aeksio and onos. Aeksio and onos also happen to mean “gold” and “hand.” Hence, there might have been a mistranslation somewhere along the way, and the Prince Who is Promised might not be “The Lord of Light” but rather the “Gold Hand.” Hey, don’t we know someone who has a golden hand running around Westeros?
A major part of the Azor Ahai story is that he forged the great sword Lightbringer, but it didn’t become fully powerful until he drove it into his beloved wife’s breast, killing her. Some are saying that if Jaime does kill Cersei, it could be his Lightbringer moment. Additionally, the theory points to Melisandre’s prophecy: “When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone.” As this theory goes, Jamie’s rebirth is a wholly figurative one: the “Kingslayer” dies, and Azor Ahai is born.
My biggest problem with the theory is that it overlooks that whole dragon thing completely: the Lannisters don’t have anything to do with dragons. But if the Lannisters are secret Targaryens, things become a lot more interesting.
Still, as I said, I don’t actually subscribe to either of these theories even though they are really good, and even though I completely buy into the crazy and probably unprovable theory that Tyrion is a secret
Lannister Targaryen (whoops). For one, they’ve laid no foundation on the show — none at all — for the twins to be secret Targaryens. In contrast, Tyrion calls himself a bastard; has his father tell him to his face, “you are no son of mine”; he was born with a tail, a trait seen on Targaryen stillborns; and, perhaps most tellingly, isn’t immediately set on fire by the dragons when he comes to meet them.
In contrast, we have nothing on the show that suggests that the Lannister twins might be Targaryens except for all of the incest and the fact that it would be deliciously ironic.
As for the Jaime is Azor Ahai thing, 1. If he’s not a Targaryen, it doesn’t hold water but 2. there is nothing to suggest that Jaime Lannister is suddenly going to be the one to save Westeros from a White Walker threat that he doesn’t know or care about. Ultimately, I think people are making parallel narratives and character arcs much more important than they actually are, says the woman who regularly straps on her tin foil cap to go on crazy theory deep dives that last for days and days.
Game of Thrones airs on HBO on Sundays at 8/9 p.m. and I’m off to go watch that opening scene again, byeeeeeeeeee.